Silverstone played host to the season finale of the Equipe GTS, a series for pre- 1966 FIA GT, which Classic and Sports Finance proudly sponsors and has competed in for the past three years. This last and exciting outing of the year offered a different format to the usual 40-minute GTS races, instead opting for an endurance style relay event with the results being finalised on a handicap system, ensuring victory is viable for all regardless of car, or talent.
The Classic and Sports Finance team mixed 2 cars, 4 drivers over 3 hours. With strategies planned and stop watches at the ready, Rob was the race starter in car one, guaranteed to get the car through the opening laps without incident and pace setting into 3 hours of racing. Despite struggling with a down on power, season worn engine, Rob settled into a rhythm over his 45 minute stint, putting down consistent lap times – the key to endurance handicap racing. With Rob’s campaign coming to end, guest driver Dave Brown slid into the somewhat healthier car two, ready to take over for another 45 minutes (a challenge for any end of season 1840cc engine). Dave produced some impressive times for his first race of the year, putting in some quick laps placing the team in a healthy position at the 100-minute handicap mark. Even a brief brush on track with a slow moving 911 didn’t seem to dampen his spirits or his pace.
Nearing the 90-minute mark it was time for car one to go back out for its second stint in the hands of this seasons maiden team driver, Ed Barton-Hilton. The 5 minute warning came from the pit wall meaning it was time to fire up the car and prepare to head out. And then disaster struck, almost certainly ending the team’s chances of a strong finish. That same race worn engine had surrendered and begged for forgiveness, refusing to come to life for its last outing of the year, despite the best efforts of the crew. The quick thinking and experience from team manager, Paul Eales of Oselli Motorsport, shone through calling an immediate change in strategy directing Ed to jump out the car and preparing the crew for a refuel and driver change of car two, which would now be triple stinting to the 3-hour mark. A ten-man crew of team, family and friends all sprung into action to ensure a rapid turnaround however this unexpected change in strategy was to cost the team 6.30 minutes, putting them far out of reach of any silverware.
Ed pressed hard to make up lost ground during light rain and an oil laden track and these greasy conditions saw Ed take evasive action in a heart stopping moment over the grass into Copse corner. It seemed certain to spectators (and driver!) that a meeting with the wall was inevitable however mercifully Ed managed to keep it straight and get back on track, completing the rest of his 45 minute stint placing some good lap times in changeable conditions and an unfamiliar car.
Nearing the end, it was time for the fourth and final 45 minute stint, putting car two back out for its third successive session in testament to its preparers, Oselli. Another 6.00 minutes were lost to the rivals thanks to refuelling and a driver change which unfortunately sealed the teams fate. Thankfully car two was now piloted by MG race veteran David Eales of Oselli, who was the safe set of hands required to bring the car home to at least record a finish to the gruelling 3-hour race which he did with smiles of relief by everyone back in the paddock. Two tired cars, four exhausted drivers and despite the odds, a very satisfying days racing with old friends, competitors and clients.
Perhaps not a result to remember but certainly a race to remember. And that’s what racing is really about – isn’t it?